Polish artist recreates famous Solidarity poster for abortion rights protests

Artist Jarek Kubicki, who has redesigned an iconic Polish campaign poster from the 1989 election, Poland's first democratic vote after World War Two, to mark massive abortion rights protests sweeping throughout the country, poses at his home in Warsaw, Poland, October 28, 2020. Picture taken October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) - Warsaw artist Jarek Kubicki has designed posters for the hundreds of thousands protesting against the restriction of abortion in Poland based on a famous image of the Solidarity trade union, which helped topple communism in the country.

The Constitutional Court's decision last Thursday that abortions due to foetal abnormalities are unconstitutional has brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in recent days, demanding Poland's conservative government reverse the ruling.

Once it goes into effect, abortion will only be legal in the case of incest, rape or a threat to the mother's health.

Kubicki, who hails from Gdansk, where the Solidarity movement sprung up in the ship yards in 1980, wanted to highlight what he calls the similarities between the union's fight against communism and the fight against the abortion restriction.

"The logo of Solidarity... is associated with rebellion, with the fight for rights, with the fight for dignity," said Kubicki, who based his images on a 1989 poster used ahead of the first partly-free elections after decades of communist rule.

He has replaced the original's silhouette of Gary Cooper from the 1952 film "High Noon" infront of the word Solidarity, with female heroines from movies such as "Alien", "The Terminator" and "Kill Bill" standing in front of a Polish expression which means "Get the f*** out of here", directed at the government.

The use of profanities on some banners during the protests has drawn criticism from some quarters. Kubicki said he wanted to show that women curse too.

Kubicki has participated in the protests frequently and has developed a package of files - including posters, stickers and social media headers - available online for anyone to print.

"I wanted to give people a way to express their opposition without moving away from their computers, given that not everyone can or some are afraid to go out because of the pandemic," he said.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed to abortion rights activists on Thursday to halt mass protests, saying they would fuel more coronavirus infections and threaten the elderly.

(Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Additional reporting by Malgorzata Wojtunik and Karolina Bohacova; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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